Sunday, May 12, 2013

Wildcat 100

2nd place SS
Strava Data

I was watching the forecast all week and it never changed much... 60-80% chance of rain all day long but at least the temperature was to be 60-70 degrees so I figured I could handle that.  Below that would have been extremely hard, I race great when it is super hot but when it is cold I am weak and pathetic.

The race was in Rosendale, NY and my dad agreed to drive with me :)  He tried to talk me into going there the day before and spending the night but I always race better and feel better when I just go there the morning of... haha so I got up at 12:30am and we started driving to the race at 1:15am (4.5hr drive)!  Oh man these 100milers area always an epic adventure.. best sport ever!  Only bad thing is that I left my Cerasport bottles in the frig... man that was a bad move!  I had to rely on water only for the race.

Once we arrived we met up with AFC Teammate Greg Rittler who was the only other AFC'er racing this one with me.  He was kind enough to get my race packet and drop bags the day before. I was ready to race at 6:10am and the race did not start until 6:45am.... it is good to be early.  I also kinda love 100s because I don't have to do a warm up before the race, I mean who needs to warm up when you are going to race for 7-9hrs?  For a cyclocross race the warmup is super important, but it is always such a pain.

I lined up on the front row along side Kevin Carter (who has beaten me the last 2 times we have raced), Seamus Powell (SS a super star mountain biker who was definitely the favorite for the SS win), Ron Harding (SS), Christian Tanguay (who usually wins these races overall), Matt Ferrari (SS), Mike Montalbano (SS), and 250 or so others.

My dad shot this video of the starting line

At the start I never go too hard or too easy.. you want to be in a good position before you hit the single track but you don't want to go out crazy since it will be a long day and you need to save that energy.  I just kept my eyes on Ron Harding since I knew he was my biggest competition in the Single Speed (SS) category other than Seamus, but I figured Seamus was probably in a whole different league.. and he was.

Ron, Ferrari, Mike, and I entered the Single Track with a whole mess of geared riders, while Seamus was just a bit ahead with the select few of the fastest geared riders.  I never saw him again after that.  The Single Track was so much fun!  It was pretty impossible to pass and a lot of the riders were crashing often which made it slow going but it was so fun and so early in the race that I was not worried about it.  Afterall I was next to Ron, Mike, and Matt who I considered my main competition.

Matt and I separated from Ron when a geared rider crashed in front of him and he got tangled up in the wreck.  He had to stop to fix his bike and that was that.  Later he told me it took him nearly 20minutes to get going again.

There were 2 major hill climbs on this course.  I planned to attack each as hard as possible since I knew they would be my best chance of winning.

John Tikka Photography: Wildcat 100 Racers &emdash; Patrick Blair approaches Aid Station at Lower Awosting.

After the first hill Matt was still with me.  He was riding incredibly strong and it got me very worried that I would have a very hard time escaping him.  Before the 2nd (biggest) hill at mile 45 there was this AWESOME area of single track that lasted for about 10 miles.  In that section I was finally able to get away from Matt and then I attacked the 2nd hill with everything I had.

(video of the super fun single track at mile 40ish)

From then on I never saw another racer from the 100mile race.  I passed a lot of the 60mile racers but never another 100.  I thought that there were more guys in front of me but actually at that point I was in 5th place overall!!!  I had no idea until after the race was over that I was that high up.

The course was super duper awesome.  It was not very single speed friendly with all of the rail trail but the single track was beautiful... muddy... but beautiful!  It rained all day long but I kinda like it when the conditions are bad, unless it is cold which it wasn't.

At the very end of the race they sent us into 4 final miles of single track after passing right next to the finish line.  I could see 60mile racers there, hanging out, eating food and having a party... It was crule and unusual punishment to send us back out for another grueling 4 miles of crazy muddy and technical trails.  I wanted to sandwich soooo bad :( To make things worse I had Kevin Carter breathing down my neck.  I did everything in my power to hold him off!  I quickly downed another GU and 1/2 a PROBAR to give myself and extra boost of energy haha.  I would not let him beat me in the last 4 miles!! NO WAY!  I gave it everything I had and I was able to finish 3minutes before him, just barely.

John Tikka Photography: Wildcat 100 Racers &emdash; Patrick Blair finishes 3rd in 100 mile single gear.

These races really are an adventure.  Just finishing is a huge win and accomplishment!

I ended up 2nd in the SS and 5th overall!  One of my major season goals was to score a 5th overall at an NUE race on my single speed bike.  I could not believe it when I saw the results.

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